Positive Spaces Initiative

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Organization: OCASI
Contact: psi@ocasi.org
Started in: 2009


Summary

The Positive Spaces Initiative (PSI) aims to support the settlement sector to more effectively serve LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning) newcomers. PSI encourages training, education, leadership and resource sharing to support LGBTQ newcomers, staff, volunteers and community members.

LGBTQ individuals are an integral, though often invisible, part of immigrant and refugee communities. Immigrant and refugee-serving organizations have an obligation and responsibility to provide relevant, effective and appropriate services for these immigrants and refugees who are often marginalized within multiple communities. PSI has been traveling throughout the province of Ontario to deliver free workshops to staff members, irrespective of their roles in the agency, on how to create welcoming spaces in their agencies and organizations that are inclusive and free from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Project Features

Training

The PSI is available to deliver trainings in agencies. The trainings are for any and all agencies that wish to create more inclusive services. The purpose of all four trainings is to increase organizational capacity to provide a comfortable, welcoming environment for all newcomers. Through the learning in these trainings your agency can begin to understand what the issues specific to LGBTQ newcomers are as well as build upon work you may already be doing to be inclusive of LGBTQ people's lived realities.

Training 1 – Positive Spaces This training focuses on understanding the particular needs and realities that LGBTQ newcomers face. This module is appropriate if you are in the beginning phases of creating Positive Spaces in your agency.

Training 2 – Positive Spaces within agencies This training focuses on deepening awareness and assisting agencies in integrating the knowledge from module one and other trainings you may have undergone into policy and practice on an organizational and individual level. This training is appropriate if you are creating Positive Spaces within your agency and have continuously participated in similar trainings at all levels of your agency.

Training 3 - NEW- Accessing Settlement Services as a Human Right Using the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC) as a framework this newly designed training is specifically designed for management and is intended to raise awareness about access as a human right and support decision makers in creating and supporting organizational changes.

Training 4 - NEW- Open Space: Understanding LGBTQ issues within Settlement Services The last training module builds on Modules 1 & 2 and invites participants to engage in an honest and thoughtful discussion of LGBTQ issues who will leave this session with resources as well as relevant models of good practice. Using detailed case-studies based on real-life examples, participants will gain a fuller understanding of the various dimensions of transnational LGBTQ lives and communities.

Tools and Resources

The Positive Spaces Initiative has new tools and resources developed by and for the sector.

  • Posters – LGBTQ & Newcomer Positive Space
  • Starter Kits – Includes Resource lists, Information & Fact Sheets, and Newcomer Stories
  • Post Cards – have been translated into English, French, Arabic, Chinese (simplified), Hindi, Punjabi, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, and Urdu
  • 4 one hour eLearning training modules in English and French is available

Resources are available online or you can request they be mailed to you. Join us Online – Updates, A List of Agencies Identified as Positive Spaces, audio visual tools and more at http://www.positivespaces.ca

The Settlement Process for LGBTQ Newcomers in Ontario

In 2009 the Positive Spaces Initiative conducted gathered information on the realities of LGBTQ newcomers in Ontario through the Untold Stories Project. The project included interviews with LGBTQ newcomers and service providers within 5 OCASI regions. The project highlighted issues of the unique complexities of the settlement process for LGBTQ people, balancing family, community and cultural needs with that of finding LGBTQ inclusive spaces and barriers to accessing settlement services.

Talking About Positive Spaces in your Region

The Positive Spaces Initiative continues to support local networks of service providers. In many regions throughout Ontario LGBTQ-serving organizations don‟t have historically strong partnerships and relationships with immigrant and refugee serving agencies. The Positive Spaces Initiative would like to connect you to come together in your community to assess current and future needs to meet the service needs for LGBTQ newcomers. If you are interested in finding out more about creating or joining your local network, training for your agency, or to find tools and resources please contact the Positive Spaces Initiative.

Project website

The project's website is http://www.positivespaces.ca

Project Management and Funder

The Positive Spaces Initiative is managed by OCASI and funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Project Recognition

In 2012 the Positive Spaces Initiative was named a Best Practice by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For details please see http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/partner/bpss/index.asp

Social Media

OCASI recently established a Twitter account (@ocasi_psi) and facebook group http://www.facebook.com/PositiveSpacesInitiative for the Positive Spaces Initiative with the purpose of further engaging the target audience. The goal of this social media engagement is to increase visibility, share sector relevant news/resources, and strengthen/develop relationships with new and existing partners.

Contact Person

For more information on the site, please contact:

Hurly Navarro-Meraveles
Project Coordinator, Positive Spaces Initiative
hmaravales@ocasi.org
Tel 416-322-4950 x 265